Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Songsmith - a new best friend!

I recently downloaded Songsmith in my ICT lab and today a couple of my Grade 7's, who wanted to practise for a guitar item they are going to present at Assembly, asked if they could come and use it to see how they sounded.

Of course, I love that they want to experiment, so in they came! I carried on with my work but every now and then I took a quick pic of them.  I think I may be in love with this and will have to find an excuse to let some of the classes create adverts / jingles / songs.... anything!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The E-Beam

One of the things that I was most taken with at Conference was the fact teachers in the classroom were making use of technology. Things like cell phones, camera's, mxit, interactive whiteboards, Skype and so much more.

It was at this point that I realised what I always knew was missing. The use of technology shouldn't be limited to once a week for an hour at "Computer Class" but, because the learners are so digitally wired, the way that we can engage them and make learning enjoyable for them, is allowing them to be active participants in their lessons.

On coming back to school, I shared with our Head and Board why I was so excited about everything that I had learnt and the technology that I had seen at work. I organised an E-Beam demo with the teachers and later with the parents. I think I would be correct in saying that those present were as excited as I was by the end of the demo!

The E-Beam

The upshot of this is that:
  • We will have 2 E-Beams fully installed in each of the Phase Head classrooms. The other classes may "book" those rooms if they would like to use it until we can put one in each class
  • Our training takes place in a month's time
  • The Headmistress and the HOD of each Phase are all attending the EdTech Conference, overwhelming evidence of their commitment to change the way of teaching and of learning.

We are committed to education and are working together to create an enviroment where learning is interactive, engaging and fun!

It's the beginning of a wonderful time of learning for all of us: Teachers and Students!

Ancient Civilisations - Egypt

The Grade 5's have been busy with Ancient Civilisations this term and were required to present information on Egypt which would cover certain criteria.

As a way of doing something differently we decided to let them source some information and photographs and then record their information using Photo Story 3.

Since it was the first time the class would be using Photo Story there was a fair amount of nerves involved when they heard they had to record themselves speaking and then that the entire class would hear it too.

Prep prior to lesson:
Sourcing information and pictures relevant to use as an example of what is expected of them.

ICT Lesson 1:
  • Play the example to give them an idea of what they are aiming to achieve
  • Source pictures from Bing / Google Images
  • "Save picture as" in their designated folder
 ICT Lesson 2:
  • Import their saved pictures into Photo Story 3
  • Use the 'transitions / customising motion' to set up their pics in the correct order
 ICT Lesson 3:
  • The practise round of narrating: This was necessary, not because it was difficult, but because they got such a kick out of hearing themselves, some in a good way and some not so much! It was necessary for them to have a chance to get all the hijinx out of their system - the following week would be 'head down and narrate'.
 ICT Lesson 4:
  • This week, it was all systems go - the narrating went well, the children knew exactly what to expect and were able to really concentrate on their orals.

 Last week Mrs vdM brought the class through to the ICT Centre to assess and view their presentions. I was really proud of their first project done in Photo Story - and, the children really enjoyed it too!

"Direct & Indirect Speech"

The Grade 4's are looking at Direct and Indirect Speech in English at the moment. Mrs V, the English teacher and I decided to incorporate this into ICT to change the way it is usually done.

I've had fun thinking about how to make this into an enjoyable experience for the class as well as introducing them to some new ways of learning. This is the project that I have come up with:

"The story within the story"

Prep prior to the lesson:
  • I found a couple of lesser known Aesops Fables/Cartoons on You-Tube, saved and converted them.
  • Open in Windows Movie Maker. Take "snapshots" of the screens that carried the heart of the story
  • The snapshots were saved into a named folder
  • I printed out the screenshots to have available to the class

ICT Lesson 1:
  • Play the movies through for the class without any sound
  • Talk about facial expressions, body language and gestures
  • Look for the story
  • The children were asked to choose which Movie Clip they would like to "adopt" to add speech to.
  • They each got a sheet of the printed out screenshots.
An Example of Printed Screenshots

In Class:
Mrs V put them into groups, and during class in their groups they have to "find the story" and write it down in "Direct Speech". These will all be done during their English classes.

ICT Lesson 2:
  • From their screenshot folder, open each picture in Paint and add Speech Bubbles
  • Save each picture
  • This will take a couple of lessons.

On conclusion, we will watch each Clip with the sound and see if anyone "found the story".

ICT Lesson 4:
  • Import their edited and saved pictures into PhotoStory 3 (or may try Little Bird Tales that I have recently been made aware of)
  • Teach them about editing, transitions and customising the motions.
  • They will then narrate the story in "Indirect Speech"
  • This will take a couple of lessons

ICT Lesson 6:
These will be uploaded to the School Blog as well as possibly publishing as podcasts.

(Naturally credit will be given to the original authors and those who uploaded the clip to You-Tube.)

* * * * *

So far, the children are really enjoying this project and it is going well!

What I like alot about this project, is that it lends itself to working in groups to agree on a storyline, what will be said and how it will play out. It also allows discussion on looking at things like facial expressions, body language and gestures, and how to interpret them.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Beginning of a Grand Adventure!

In June this year my life changed.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the way that I work changed. I attended a Conference where I met Educators and ICT 'guru's' faaaaar ahead of me in this journey. I felt slightly intimidated actually, and completely out of my depth. However, what I lacked in knowledge and experience, I think I made up for in passion and enthusiasm!

The week of workshops were fantastic. I heard about tools and apps that I never knew existed. I met people who were trying new ways of teaching and I wished that some of our Staff were with me so that they too, would feel as inspired as I.

In the months since the Conference, I have been trying frantically to check every resouce and link that is tweeted or blogged, with the result that I have had little to no time for anything else!  It's taken a few months, but I have come to realise that one cannot implement everything that one learns immediately. So I have decided to focus on a few new ideas and do them well, rather than rush around like a wild woman, trying to do everything at once. It's not a pretty sight!

This is pretty much how this Blog came about. I needed a place to 'record'  the ideas that I have heard about and loved, but may not necessarily have time to pursue right now. In this way, I won't lose anything, it will be here when I am ready for it and in the process, perhaps I can inspire others to try something new with their classes.

So, I am not expecting to be cutting edge here - I am following the cutting edge ICT people!  You will find ideas I have had from them, and some lessons I have tried, and possibly failed at, things I have learnt in the process and plenty of enthusiasm for the task.

This is the Baby-Steps Blog.... and one day maybe I will wake up with a huge shock, and realise that I have grown and am cutting edge!

In the meantime however, I am just excited about the journey!

So, then, let's take that first step.